What Can Cause Your Septic System To Freeze?

Construction & Contractors Blog

Typically, septic systems are designed to work just fine during winter. Freezing in the manhole and drain pipes is usually prevented by snow cover, but lack of proper insulation due to skimpy snowfall or extreme temperature drops could cause your septic system to malfunction.

A septic freeze-up usually results in wastewater backing up into the home, causing toilets, sinks and bathtubs to flood as well as costing you a hefty bill during excavation. The drainfield is usually the most susceptible to freezing during winter, although other areas such as leaking drain pipes and the septic tank are also known to freeze if not well insulated. This article examines 3 common causes of septic freeze-ups and practical remedies you can employ.

Compacted or snow or soil - When snow or soil around the drainfield is compacted, it causes the frost on the surface to go deeper, which affects the insulation of the septic tank and prevents more water from being absorbed into the leaching field. To prevent these problems in driveways, livestock enclosures or other areas with heavy traffic, insulate all sewer pipes and tanks with a thick layer of mulch. In addition, try and redirect all vehicle, livestock and human traffic away from the sewer pipes and drainfield to prevent the ground above from freezing deeper.

Lack of adequate snow cover - Snow provides natural insulation over the septic tank, mound and sewer lines, so when there is insufficient snowfall, these areas are at risk of freezing as the frost is penetrates deeper into the ground. Cover your septic system with a layer of mulch made from hay, straw, grass or plastic bags to add extra insulation when snow cover is inadequate. In addition, you should let the grass over your soil treatment area grow a little taller before winter hits, as this vegetation cover will hold snow and keep the system well insulated when temperatures drop.

Irregular use of the system - A constant flow of water through the septic system is necessary to maintain temperatures required to prevent freezing. If you are planning to go on vacation, have the tank pumped out before you leave. You can also maintain the system by having someone run some warm water through the drains on a regular basis.

When there are fewer people in the house, you can increase water usage, spread out your laundry schedule and take more hot showers to help keep a constant flow of water through the system, which is vital during cold weather. Any leaking plumbing fixtures should also be fixed and insulated to prevent freezing.

If your septic system freezes, call in a sewer professional like Lutzky Contracting to determine the cause of the problem and offer solutions.

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